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Hawaiian Cent Evokes Interesting Past

September 03, 1987|DON ALPERT

Question: There are some coins I've had around for years. Could you tell me their value? All are very legible and moderately worn. They are: 1847 Hawaiian 1 cent with King Kamehameha on it; 1907 Panamanian medio centesimo de Balboa; 1912 2 anna India, and 1878 1 ore.--L.F.

Answer: Your only coin of particular interest or substantial value is the Hawaiian cent. The Panamanian piece, for example, is worth about $2 and the other two most likely not even worth that. Ah, but the Hawaiian cent. That's something else, not necessarily because it's terribly valuable but because it's so interesting.

According to "Hawaiian Money" by Donald Medcalf and Ronald Russell (a copy of which was sent to me by Russell's son, Keith D. Russell), the earliest Hawaiian coin was a private issue 12 1/2-cent piece issued by Ladd and Co. in 1837. The denomination "was the customary day's wage for a laborer. The Spanish silver 8-real coin was in popular use at this time and the 12 1/2 cents was one-eighth or '1 bit.' Denominations were based on fractions of the 8 real, which was notched so that it could be divided into 'bits' (two bits equaled one-quarter, etc.)."

Ten years later, Hawaii, a monarchy under King Kamehameha III, issued its first official coinage. It was a large 1-cent copper piece and 100,000 were struck. Most of these coins did not circulate and were not popular with merchants. Eventually, many were melted after having been denied legal-tender status after 1884. There are several varieties, and those that are red to bright red with uncleaned surfaces command a premium. Your coin would be worth $50 and up, depending upon condition. The upper price range of these cents approaches $2,000.

Q: Can you tell me anything about my coin, which looks like gold or brass? It is dated 1824 with a head and stars on the front; United States of America with an eagle and 50 C on the back. Around the rim is cut fifty cents half dollar.--L.B.R.

A: Your coin is known as a Capped Bust type, lettered-edge half dollar. This type was made from 1807 to 1866. There are several varieties in 1824 with a total mintage of 3.5 million.

Q: My mother has the following coins; some are darkened by oxidation. What are they worth and where could she sell them to realize the largest income? The coins are cents dated 1814, 1817, 1820, 1822, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1831, 1838, 1839, 1840, 1848, 1850, 1852, 1853 and a 2-cent piece, 1860.--J.McB.

A: The 1814 cent is $10, the 1840 is $5, the other cents are $7 and up. The 2-cent piece is $3 and up. Check with several dealers or attend a coin show where you can comparison-shop.

Q: Can you help me? I have a jetton 1722 Bretangne, Lud. XV Rex. Christianissimus; and a Napoleon III Empereur Francais, 1868 (1 franc).--J.E.C.

A: Your jetton (also spelled with one T) is more of a token than a coin. Jettons were invented in France and spread throughout the continent. It is worth $75 to $125. The 1 franc is about $5.

Coin News

A decade of resettlement in Samaria, an ancient region in Israel, is being commemorated with an official state medal (pictured). The obverse depicts a typical Jewish settlement (there are more than 120 housing a population of about 60,000) with the reverse showing an ancient olive tree with the biblical quote: "You shall yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria" (Jeremiah 31:5). The bronze medal is available for $10 from the Israel Government Coins and Medals Corp., 5 Ahad Ha'am St., Jerusalem 91022, Israel; or J.J. Van Grover Ltd., P.O. Box 123, Oakland Gardens, N.Y. 11364. Profits from these medals are earmarked for nature preservation and improvement of landscape in Israel.

A souvenir card produced by the Bureau of Engraving and Printing is being offered as a memento of the Great Eastern Numismatic Assn. Exhibition Sept. 18-20 in Cherry Hill, N.J. The card features the back of a 1907 series $10 gold certificate. It is customized with the state shield of New Jersey. The cards are available in mint (order No. 946, $5.50), Post Office canceled (No. 947, $5.75) and intaglio print (No. 424, $22.50). Make checks payable to the Bureau of Engraving and Printing, Mail Order Sales, Room 602-11A, 14th and C streets S.W., Washington, D.C. 20228.

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